After the oils and lye have combined in saponification the soap is put into a mold and then gel phase will start if the temperature is kept higher. If the temperature is lowered then gel phase is slowed or halted. Letting soap go through gel phase is a personal choice. The only difference between soap that has gone through gel phase and one that hasn’t is the appearance. Not letting soap go through gel phase makes the colors turn pastel.
Below are pictures of the same recipe of soap, same ingredients, and same colors; the soap on the left was allowed to go through gel phase and the one on the right was rapidly cooled after pouring into the mold.
Soap making is a wonderful science and there are so many variables to consider. Gel phase is just one more step that you can control. I enjoy the process of making soap, even if sometimes it doesn’t turn out as I had planned for it to.